Does Developer Damage Hair Without Bleach Powder?

does developer damage hair without bleach

Did you run out of the bleach powder that made you think of using developer only to lift your hair color? Or is it the notion that not using the powder will save your hair from damage? In any case, when bleaching your hair just with the developer, a query might have popped up in your mind, which is, does the developer damage your hair without bleach?

Using a developer without bleach powder may damage your hair when you use its high volume, like 30 or 40. Also, when using it alone, you will need to apply a high amount of the developer to your hair, which may also hurt the hair strands.

According to its chemistry, the developer can’t penetrate the hair to reach the middle layer, cortex, and oxidize color pigment, melanin. Therefore, it needs bleach powder to open the outer layer of hair, the cuticle.

When using developer without bleach, only 10-20% of it gets to the cortex and lifts your hair color to 1-2 levels. The other 80% of it rips off proteins from the cuticle, making your hair prone to damage and breakage.

Further in this article, I’ll explain how using a developer without bleach powder can damage your hair. And what’s the better way of bleaching your hair.

How Does Developer Damage Hair Without Bleach Powder?

It is less likely that you can change your hair color above two levels with just the developer unless you repeat the process multiple times. Also, you would need to use the 30 or 40 volume developer. So, what do you expect, all this repeated chemical processing of your hair would go damage-free? Certainly not!

Even if you use the 30 volume developer without bleach for a single time to lift your hair color to only one level, you should expect some degree of damage from it.

Chemically, the developer is hydrogen peroxide, which causes your hair cuticles to lose proteins. The stronger the developer, the more protein your hair will lose and suffer more damage.

However, if your hair is healthy and thick, you can try lightening it with just a developer but not expect any drastic change in hair color.

But when you mix developer with bleach powder, the process goes smoothly. This way, you can lift your hair color to any level by just changing the volume of the developer.

The bleach powder, which mostly is ammonia, opens the hair cuticle by changing its pH and makes it easy for the developer to reach the cortex. Additionally, it enhances the action of hydrogen peroxide and helps lift the color quickly.

If you ask me what’s better between using developer alone or mixing it with bleach powder, I will inquire what final color you want. When adding some highlights and slightly lightening your natural hair color, it’s better to use developer without bleach.

However, if you want to lift your hair shade to 4-5 levels, it is safer and easier to achieve by mixing developer with bleach powder. Otherwise, you have to use a lot of hydrogen peroxide repeatedly. And make your hair suffer more damage.

Many people don’t use neutralizing shampoo after bleach to lower the pH and raised cuticles caused by the bleach powder. That’s why their hair suffers more damage from bleaching.

How To Bleach Hair With Developer and Baking Soda?

If you have no bleach powder and want to change your hair color to three or more levels, what can you use with the developer?

People are curious by nature and always looking for answers. There is a list of questions that always keep updating when it comes to bleaching. Knowing that developer is the ingredient that lifts the hair color, some folks try using it alone without mixing it with bleach powder.

But if I tell you a safe way that can save you from using the developer alone repeatedly to change your hair color, would it not be great?

Use baking soda to substitute the bleach powder. It is a household staple and can easily be found in any store.

Why Baking Soda?

The purpose of using bleach powder along with the developer is to raise the pH of hair strands to 9 or 10, which opens the cuticle and allows the developer to penetrate the hair shaft. 

Baking soda can do the same. With its pH of 8.5, it can raise the pH of your hair from 5 to 8. So, if you mix it with the developer, you can lift your hair color without bleach powder. 

However, its result might vary from when you use the developer with bleach. 

Therefore, it is crucial first to confirm the levels of hair color lift you’ll achieve when using different volume developers with baking soda. 

When you are done finding what end hair color will be when you substitute bleach powder with baking soda, follow these steps to lift your hair tint. 

  • Create a paste by mixing 2 tbsp baking soda and the same amount of whatever developer you are using. 
  • Divide your hair into sections using clips.
  • Apply the paste evenly to your hair.
  • Leave it for 30 minutes if you have the original light hair color.
  • Let it sit for an hour if you have dark hair.

I would suggest you do a patch test first to see what you will get as your final hair color. 

Wrapping Up

The developer does damage hair without bleach powder because, after all, it is an oxidizing chemical. The higher the volume you use, the more aggressive it gets for your hair. The developer mainly damages the hair cuticle whether you use it with or without bleach. It is better to mix it with bleach powder or baking soda when you are trying to lift your hair to 3 or more levels. However, you can use developer alone when you want a lighter version of your original hair color.